If you are searching for a natural sleep remedy to help with your perimenopause or menopause sleep issues, many options are available. 5-HTP is one you may try in a combination sleep remedy or on its own. Here’s what you should know about 5-HTP.
What is 5-HTP?
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a compound your body makes as a byproduct of the amino acid L-tryptophan as it is transforming to serotonin. You might recognize the name tryptophan as the substance that makes people sleepy on Thanksgiving after they’ve eaten a lot of turkey. The body absorbs L-tryptophan from turkey and other foods that contain it.
Why not take an L-tryptophan supplement instead of 5-HTP? The use of 5-HTP is usually recommended because it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier more rapidly and is converted into serotonin more efficiently than L-tryptophan. 5-HTP also is a more effective antidepressant.
You can get 5-HTP in supplement form that is made from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia. Some people turn to the supplement to help restore levels of 5-HTP that decline as we age.
How does 5-HTP work for sleep?
5-HTP is a significant player in sleep because it helps the body make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates our sleep/wake cycles, and also promotes good mood, digestion, and appetite. A healthy level of serotonin is essential for quality sleep because it is necessary for the production of the sleep hormone, or melatonin. Therefore, you need good levels of both factors for sleep and a well-running sleep/wake cycle.
In addition, the ability of 5-HTP to boost serotonin levels also can improve mood swings, anxiety, pain sensation, and stress. These four symptoms are common causes of sleep problems in the perimenopause and menopause years.
For example, researchers have found that 5-HTP can reduce anxiety and emotional stress, which in turn may result in better quality sleep. In a study of both 5-HTP and GABA (which also can help with sleep), the authors evaluated the effects on rodents and fruit flies. The 5-HTP/GABA combination induced sleep as well as appeared to improve sleep quality and how long the subjects slept.
In another study, individuals who took 100 mg of 5-HTP had an increase in their slow-wave sleep. This is also known as phase 3 sleep and the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement sleep.
According to Mt Sinai Today, individuals who took 5-HTP experienced deeper sleep and feel sleep faster than subjects who took a placebo. A dose of 200 mg to 400 mg nightly was recommended, but it may take 6 weeks to three months before the full effect is felt.
How to take 5-HTP
5-HTP is available as a sole ingredient and in a combination natural sleep supplement. In scientific studies, the doses used have ranged from 25 mg to 500 mg and higher. It is recommended to start with the lowest dose and gradually increase as needed. When taking a sleep formula containing 5-HTP, take as directed on the package.
5-HTP is generally very well tolerated. Possible mild side effects may include diarrhea, heartburn, muscle spasms, and stomach pain.
Sleep issues during perimenopause and menopause can significantly disrupt your daily life. Natural sleep remedies, such as 5-HTP, can help alleviate sleep disturbances and assist in restoring quality sleep.